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303.13 - Graduate Programs: Grade Appeal

University Group Policy #303.13

I.  Policy Statement

The purpose of the grade appeal process is to provide a mechanism for student appeal of a final course grade that was given for impermissible or arbitrary reasons. Students who believe their final course grade was assigned by criteria other than those applying to other students or other than announced in advance in their class will be able to file a grade appeal. The grade appeal policy only applies to the appeal of a final course grade and not individual graded assignments. The procedure outlined in the "Grade Appeal Process" section is not intended to be used to review the judgment of an instructor in assessing the quality of a student’s work. There shall be one policy for the appeal of a final course grade. All graduate students will follow this policy when appealing a final course grade.

II.     Definitions

  • Whenever business day is used in this document, it shall mean any day except Saturday, Sunday, institutional holiday, or operational closing.
  • Correspondence between the parties may be as certified mail, registered mail, commercial service, personal delivery service, the university email accounts or hand-delivery by an employee or the student or his/her representative that obtains a signature. Where email is used, the time and date stamp on the email shall serve in determining compliance with timelines.

III.    Guidelines

Grounds for Grade Appeal

A student may appeal a course grade if the grade was

  1. assigned in a manner not consistent with published standards and procedures; or
  2. based upon the student’s race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, disability, veteran status or sexual orientation; or
  3. assigned because of personal malice towards the student; or
  4. the result of an error in calculating or recording grades.

Individual graded assignments that contribute to a final course grade are not subject to appeal unless it can be established that the grade for the individual assignment was given for one of the permissible reasons cited above and resulted in an unfair final grade.

Creation and Composition of the Ad Hoc Appeal Committee

An Ad Hoc committee will be composed of no less than three (3) full-time regular faculty members drawn from the entire School/College, a graduate student, and a non-voting representative from administration. The university’s advocate for Adult and Graduate Students may be included in lieu of the graduate student. A quorum shall consist of three members of the committee.

Representation of Parties

The appeals process is an internal University process and does not adhere to external legal interventions. Legal representation by faculty or student is not permitted during the appeals process. However, both the faculty and the student are entitled to a nonlegal advisor in the hearing before the hearing panel.

See Related Resources (below) for full Graduate Grade Appeal Process.

IV.    Roles and Responsibilities

Responsibility of Faculty and Students

  1. Faculty Responsibility. The faculty sets the evaluation standards for the courses they teach and uses these standards in determining the grades on individual assignments and final course grades. Faculty members are responsible for including information in their course syllabi about all course requirements, all assignments/activities that will be graded, the method that will be used to evaluate each assignment, and the grading scale that will be used to determine the final grade. The course syllabi should be distributed to each student enrolled in a class. In the event that the faculty member decides to make changes in the course requirements and in methods and standards for evaluating a particular course, this information shall be shared in writing and orally with all students in the class prior to making an assignment. Faculty members are responsible for using previously established standards to grade all course assignments regardless of a student’s race, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, or other personal characteristics. Faculty members are required to explain to the student how contested grades were determined.
  2. Student Responsibility. The act of registering denotes an implicit declaration of the student’s acceptance of university regulations and course requirements. Failure to abide by university regulations will subject the student to appropriate disciplinary action. The university also expects the student to obey the law, to show respect for properly constituted authority, to perform contractual obligations, to maintain absolute integrity and a high standard of individual honor in scholastic work, and to maintain conduct appropriate for a community of scholars. Students are responsible for being aware of all university policies regarding academic integrity issues as published in the graduate catalog.

V.     Applicability

This policy is applicable to graduate students at Winston-Salem State University.

VI.    Compliance

Compliance with Timelines

The intent of this policy is to resolve all grade appeals in the semester immediately following the semester in which the grade was given. Failure by the student to comply with any of the scheduled timelines without justifiable excuse shall result in forfeiture of the right of appeal and dismissal of the appeal. The presentation of an excuse shall be made to the dean of the school or college to which the appeal is filed. A student may appeal to the next level of appeal if there is unjustified failure of any person in the appeal process to comply with scheduled timelines that is not caused by illness or other extended absences from campus.

Responsible Division: Provost & Vice Chancellor for Academic & Student Affairs

Authority: Board of Trustees


  • Amended and Approved September 19, 2014

Related Resources: